The COVID-19 pandemic has taught the world many things, including the need to prioritize public health. Protecting those you rely on ensures they’ll be there when you need assistance.
Business owners must prioritize the health and safety of their employees. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that 5,333 fatal work injuries occurred in 2019, which marked a 2 percent increase over 2018. The most common causes of workplace injuries include overexertion and bodily reaction, falls, slips, and trips. When implementing safety precautions comes with a high price tag or is met with resistance by workers, it is up to business owners to dig deep and put protection over profit. Various strategies can help business owners as they navigate a post-pandemic landscape that may require a new approach to employee safety.
• Recognize the threat of potential safety issues. Accidents will happen regardless of how much business owners try to prevent them. But prevention efforts still greatly reduce the risk of accident and injury. Make a list of more common dangers (falls or injuries from equipment) and less common ones (fires or criminal perpetrators). Once the list is compiled, develop a plan to reduce the risk of accidents on both lists.
• Perform risk assessments. Conduct a risk assessment on your own or hire a third party to review the business and make recommendations. Note potential hazards and what must be done to remedy them promptly.
• Create a custom health and safety policy. Make a safety plan a key part of the employee handbook. Employees should be well versed in existing and newly adopted safety protocols and what’s expected of them in case of emergency.
• Be mindful of requirements. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s OSH Act includes statutory requirements. Some of these include providing OSHA training, keeping records of work-related illnesses and accidents and providing personal protective equipment. Properly maintaining tools and equipment is another requirement.
• Utilize safety equipment and label hazards. Anti-slip mats on floors, properly locked cabinets for combustibles and other chemicals, warning signs and labeling in hazardous zones, and guards or kill switches on heavy machinery can greatly reduce the risk of employee injury.
• Provide safety training. Employees won’t know how to do their jobs safely without training. Routinely assess employees to ensure compliance and install a reward system to commend those who make safety a priority.
• Perform safety drills. Ensure employees know how to react quickly in emergency situations by routinely going over protocols, including emergency evacuation drills. Consult with law enforcement professionals if guidance is needed.
Safety should be a goal for any business owner. Providing resources, maintaining equipment, conducting safety assessments, and educating employees can make a real difference in reducing injuries.